The Hub AU’s 2019 Three Minute Thesis (3MT ®) competition

AU’s 2019 Three Minute Thesis (3MT ®) competition

An 80,000 word thesis would take 9 hours to present.


Your time limit… 3 minutes!

AU is gearing up for their 2019 Three Minute Thesis (3MT ®) competition which will take place virtually on March 22, 2019. We invite our thesis-based graduate students to participate in this exciting event.

AU’s Research Centre is sponsoring CASH prizes for the top 3 AU winners. The 1st place winner will also receive travel funds to compete at the Western Regional Competition at the University of British Columbia in Prince George, BC on April 17, 2019.

  • 1st place award: $1000 (plus up to $800 travel expenses)
  • 2nd place award: $500
  • 3rd place award: $250

Support our grad students and register to attend AU’s virtual 3MT competition as a guest.

So what is the 3MT®?

Founded by The University of Queensland (UQ) in 2008, the competition cultivates students’ academic, presentation, and research communication skills. Presenting in a 3MT competition increases their capacity to effectively explain their research in three minutes, in a language appropriate to a non-specialist audience. Competitors are allowed one PowerPoint slide, but no other resources or props.

Some history on the 3MT®

The idea for the Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) competition came about at a time when the state of Queensland was suffering severe drought. To conserve water, residents were encouraged to time their showers, and many people had a three minute egg timer fixed to the wall in their bathroom. The then Dean of the UQ Graduate School, Emeritus Professor Alan Lawson, put two and two together and the idea for the 3MT competition was born.

2008 The first 3MT competition was held at UQ with 160 Higher Degree by Research (HDR) candidates competing.
2009 The 3MT competition was promoted to other Australian and New Zealand universities and enthusiasm for the concept grew.
2010 A multi- national event was developed, and the Inaugural Trans- Tasman 3MT competition was held at UQ in 2010.
2013 The first Universitas 21 (U21) 3MT Competition was held with several universities from around the world competing in a virtual competition.
2016 3MT bought about an expansion of the Trans-Tasman 3MT competition to include universities from South-East and North Asia regions. The competition since then has been called the Asia-Pacific 3MT Competition and is hosted annually by UQ.
Now 3MT is held in over 600 universities across more than 65 countries worldwide.

Why should I compete in the 3MT®?

There are many benefits to competing in a 3MT ® competition. Some of these benefits include:

  • Sharing your research with the public
  • Learning how to frame your thesis topic
  • Generating an easy to understand statement for scholarships
  • Getting your name known
  • Developing presentation skills
  • Having a ‘pitch’ ready for a job interview
  • Meeting other people who are part of the larger research community
  • Being part of a research community who is having impact
  • Building your resume/CV
  • Monetary prizes (First Place – $1,000 + $800 travel expenses to travel to Western Regionals Competition, Second Place – $500, Third Place – $250)


Competitors are eligible if they meet the following requirements:

  • Current thesis-based graduate student in an active AU master’s or doctoral program
  • Good academic standing
  • Available to present on the AU Competition day, March 22nd 2019

You are not eligible if:

  • you have graduated
  • you are a project/course based student
  • you are a visiting student

Note: a student whose thesis is under submission on the date of their first competition is still eligible to compete


  • A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted. No slide transitions, animations or ‘movement’ of any description are allowed. The slide is to be presented from the beginning of the oration.
  • Student must be visible via webcam throughout the duration of their 3MT
  • No additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) are permitted.
  • No additional props (e.g. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment) are permitted.
  • Presentations are limited to 3 minutes maximum and competitors exceeding 3 minutes are disqualified.
  • Presentations are to be spoken word (e.g. no poems, raps or songs).
  • Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through either movement or speech.
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.

Judging panel

  • Dr. Pamela Hawranik – Acting, Associate Vice President Research, Athabasca University
  • Kim Jones – EdD Candidate and winner of AU’s 2018 3MT competition
  • Erin Stevenson – Manager, Marketing and Social Media, Athabasca University
  • Celebrity Judge (TBA)

What are our judges are looking for?

Comprehension and content

  • Did the presentation provide an understanding of the background and significance to the research question being addressed, while explaining terminology and avoiding jargon?
  • Did the presentation clearly describe the impact and/or results of the research, including conclusions and outcomes?
  • Did the presentation follow a clear and logical sequence?
  • Was the thesis topic, research significance, results/impact and outcomes communicated in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience?
  • Did the presenter spend adequate time on each element of their presentation – or did they elaborate for too long on one aspect or was the presentation rushed?

Engagement and communication

  • Did the oration make the audience want to know more?
  • Was the presenter careful not to trivialize or generalize their research?
  • Did the presenter convey enthusiasm for their research?
  • Did the presenter capture and maintain their audience’s attention?
  • Did the speaker have strong stage presence, eye contact and vocal range; maintain a steady pace, and have a confident stance?
  • Did the PowerPoint slide enhance the presentation – was it clear, legible, and concise?

3MT® timeline

21-Jan Registration Opens for AU’s 2019 3MT Internal Competition
15-Feb Kim Jones (2018 AU 3MT winner) presents webinar “Creating a Winning 3MT” Register to attend
15-Mar Deadline to register for AU’s 3MT
20-Mar Final day for competitors to submit 3MT slide
22-Mar AU’s 2019 3MT Competition
17-Apr The winner from AU’s 3MT will go on to compete in the Western Regional Competition taking place at the University of Northern British Columbia in Price George.
03-Jun 3MT National Competition (Location TBD)

Competitor resources

Registration Information

Filed Under:
  • January 28, 2019